Saturday, June 19, 2010

Libraries Worth Traveling to See



Tucked away, in hidden corners of the world, are some old libraries, with soaring ceilings and paintings to match the Sistine Chapel. These treasures are all over the globe, including in the U.S., and I’ll be blogging about several in the weeks to come.
The library in Strahov Monastery in Prague holds documents going back centuries. Their most prized possession is a 9th century document, heavily ornamented, but that is not the only treasure there. The shelves are filled with priceless old manuscripts, most dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The library has suffered setbacks since its origin. In 1258 a fire damaged the building, and later, in the 15th century, Hussite warriors ransacked the monastery. When Sweden invaded Prague, they took many of the precious books back with them to Sweden.
After the Thirty Years War, the books were stored in a new hall, the present Theological Hall, built in 1679 (see photo at top). For years after that, to prevent fire or theft, readers were not permitted to bring a light inside the hall, or to stay after 7:30 p.m.
Over the centuries, the library became so renowned throughout Europe that visitors came from afar, not only to study the documents but also to see the library itself. Among those visitors was Napoleon’s wife, Mary Louise, who came in 1812.
The library is opened to visitors daily except for a few holidays. The public may use the card catalogue, and books may be read in the study hall, but because of the age and great value of the books, it is forbidden to take them from the library.
My next blog will be about another magnificent library, in another city. If you love libraries like I do, sign up to follow my blog. You may discover a treasure not far from where you live.

10 comments:

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I'd love to spend some time in that library. It's gorgeous!

Penny Rader said...

Ooh, what fun to visit these libraries! I always wanted a library like the one in the Beauty and the Beast movie.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jennifer: I'd love to see it too. I have a friend going to Prague in Sept. and I told her about it. She said she's definitely going to see it. BTW, I really like your website. I jotted down about the oldmagazinearticles.com, but not until after I read the excerpt of your book, which sounds great. Thanks for stopping by.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Penny, and thanks for dropping by. I didn't see Beauty and the Beast, but it must have been a memorable library for you to remember it. BTW, I love your book cover with the ship. Looks very romantic and a bit suspensful.

Mary Ricksen said...

I love the sight and smell of old books. Finding a library with books in it these days is hard in a major city. I was shocked the last time I went.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

When we travel, one of the first places I visit is the library. I've seen some amazing ones. Obviously, you have too!

Rebbie Macintyre said...

What a great idea, Joyce! A virtual tour of libraries! I'll be back to your blog to follow--I know I'll never see most of these places in person. Although, you just never know. . .

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Mary: Well, I guess all the libraries are struggling for funds to buy books and keep librarians paid. Luckily, our lib. system has active groups (Friends of the Library) who do amazing things to raise money. Their book sales are huge and wonderful.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jacqueline: Sorry to say, I haven't seen these, and just found out about them all, so next time I go somewhere where one of them is, I'm sure going to visit.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Rebbie: I got the idea from you. I may go back to Paris over the holidays and if so, I'm going to visit the ones there. Thanks for stopping by my blog.